Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 123

house. Despite Omar being unarmed and wearing nothing but his bathrobe, the dealers abandon their entire drug supply to him, purely out of fear. Omar returns home with the cereal and drugs, and sits down to eat breakfast with his partner. Omar’s partner in this scene is his newest boyfriend Renaldo, with “Home Rooms” being Renaldo’s first appearance in the series. A unique aspect of Omar’s personality is that Omar is one of the few characters in The Wire to enjoy committed relationships, having three serious boyfriends over the course of the series. In order, they are: Brandon in season one, Dante in seasons two and three, and Renaldo in season four and five. Omar remains monogamous with each of his partners, a departure from popular depictions of homosexual activity in early 2000s television. Such depictions often reinforced cultural stereotypes by linking homosexuality with sexual chastity or deviancy, very rarely presenting healthy and normalized relationships typical of the heterosexual model. In response to such stereotypical media depictions of homosexuality, “a primary purpose of the critical application of queer theory has been to demonstrate how sexuality is culturally essentialized to inscribe heterosexuality as normal and all other sexualities as deviant” (Avila-Saavedra 6). However, The Wire subversively presents Omar’s homosexuality as anything but deviant. Unlike McNulty, Omar does not pursue casual sex, and his sexuality is instead expressed solely through these three relationships. This is especially noteworthy when contrasted with other African American characters in the series, as promiscuity is popularly seen “as a defining feature of black masculinity” (Collins 162). Additionally, Omar demonstrates a romantic and tender nature towards his partners, with “baby boy” being his most frequently used term of endearment; Omar’s tenderness towards his partners is portrayed a stark contrast with McNulty’s emotional ineptitude towards Elena. It is important to note that Omar’s widely known queer sexuality does not detract from his masculine reputation (Johnson Jr. 333). Instead, Omar arguably enjoys the most feared status out of any character in The Wire, as evidenced by the cold open of “Home Rooms.” His mere appearance prompts civilians to clear the streets and yell, “Omar comin’!” to warn others. Additionally, Omar’s sentimentality towards his partners is not portrayed as a weakness that undermines his masculinity, but rather reinforces it. In the first season episode “The Wire” (7/07/02), Avon Barksdale, Stanfield’s primary rival in the drug trade, captures Brandon and tortures him to death, ultimately displaying his body as a warning to Omar. These actions are primarily motivated by retribution for a robbery Omar and Brandon commit in “The Buys” (6/16/02), an earlier episode in the season; however, the excessive brutality 123